I remember when you started posting a lot, and I've always enjoyed your words. I'm just confused, because reading this feels like someone tore about three chapters from my copy of the book.
TL;DR: if SpeakerText is dead, then why is the site open for business?
And if they're dead, are there patents? And if not, does anybody want to start a company? :)
Unfortunately, having awesome technology and improving journalism on the web are not the same as being able to make truckloads if money.
Full Disclosure: I was interviewed for this GigaOM Sector Roadmap article. I believe the SpeakerText guys were also interviewed for the article.
However, if you don't have any siblings and none of your very old friends know anything about technology/startups, you're kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place. (me)
My old friends are really smart and I'd love to work with them, but when I try to talk to them about doing a startup, they look at my like I'm nuts.
I speak from experience. I was in a similar boat. All my closest friends growing up were the wrong fit for doing anything entrepreneurial much less a startup. A friend I met through another mutual friend but rarely talked to turned out to be one of my closest friend and became my previous cofounder. It worked out great.
The question to ask yourself is, would you have looked passed those issues if you had been successful? If you would have, then you should be just as quick to look passed them in failure.
Give it some time, you will regain trust in a new cofounder you will run into, and you will drink beer again with your old cofounders.
The way I see it, taking on a co-founder is a form of start-up insurance. You increase your overall chance of success by giving up a huge portion of the upside in that eventuality.
It makes sense that a VC would prefer companies that have more than one founder if they believe it increases their statistical chance of success. Just understand that this may come at the expense of your personal gain, which is of minimal concern to an outside investor.
Dividing stock amongst 2 or 3 co-founders is a small order multiplier. You lose half or two thirds of the company. Hitting (or missing) the 1000X goal will determine your personal outcome - the amount of stock given to other co-founders, as an input variable, has virtually no comparative effect on the outcome.
- Having co-founders raises your odds of success AND the scale of your outcome (to replicate this, a solo founder would need to raise money quickly and hire up... staying solo too long limits your potential outcome)
- I believe having complementary co-founders will allow me to specialize and kick ass at what I'm best at (being solo meant doing a look of things sort of ok at, but not great)
- I haven't worked with these co-founders before, however, I think it's extraordinarily unlikely to expect to find 1-2 other people who you know really well AND are available AND skilled AND interested in the same space AND complementary. When you see an opportunity, you have to play the cards you have. In lieu of all of the above, the best approach is to work together and "run some cheap experiments" with nobody jumping in until you've decided if you can work together and there's some positive results.
- As a single founder, I felt like my skills were stagnating-- I hacked kludgy solutions to all manner of problems (tech and non-tech) because I wasn't learning from others' experience. Overall I felt extraordinarily out of touch, HN notwithstanding.
Bottom line, for me, the learning, specialization, and upside of having co-founders outweigh the control, ownership, and conflict avoidance of being a single founder.
From what I can tell, and personal experience, 3 founders seems to be a very good balance.